For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has had a somewhat morbid obsession with obituaries. She reads nearly every last word of the snippets about the recently deceased, and then guesses what caused the unlucky soul's demise.
These diagnoses go in spurts. A few years back diabetes seemed to be her favored method of death, especially if the small picture of the person seemed obese. Too skinny and she surmises AIDS to be the fatal disease. For teenagers suicide is nearly always the call, even when there is a front page story about a car load of high school students in a fatal crash.
Death is not a funny subject but this has gone on for so many years that her habit has become a source of teasing in our family. If one of us throws out a wild guess or comes across as being a bit nosy the retort is usually something like, "Now you sound like granny."
Well I'm saving them the trouble. Today I'm using this blog as sort of a confessional.
I used to work with a guy whom I never got a long with despite we both being avid sports fans. We talked, said hello, and never had a confrontation of any real sort, yet it always seemed like a competition somehow. I guess we were what you call Frenemies.
A few months back he got fired. Truth be told I didn't feel all that bad for him. He'd screwed up and he paid a price for it. His wife had left him a few months before. Then another friend saw him and told me both his car and house had been repossessed. Again, I didn't feel any great surge of sympathy.
Today I came into work and there was a note taped to the time clock. The man had died. I stood staring at the stark black ink on the white paper taped there. Shocked, I muttered, " Shit."
And then I did what my grandma has done for years. I made a wild assumption. My mind immediately whispered, "I bet he committed suicide." He'd lost everything ... his wife, his daughters, home, job, car.
I asked myself if I could have done something. He'd needed a friend. I could have picked up the phone and called. I felt true sympathy and a good bit of guilt. Then I heard that I was wrong. A massive heart attack had claimed his life. I'm still saddened that a man in his mid-forties dies so young and left behind young kids, but I m glad that he didn't just give up. I'm glad that his daughters won't wonder why he chose to leave them fatherless. And yes, I am a bit ashamed at my quickness to assign the cause of his death.